Yes, I talk about my kids on Facebook, and occasionally may brag about them. Deal with it.
No one should have to, though, according to many, most recently Bruce Feiler at the New York Times who recently wrote, “What subject could possibly be so clear-cut it has elicited once-in-a-generation unanimity? That parents should stop bragging about their children.”
Well, consider that unanimity destroyed.
Maybe you read my Facebook photos, in and of themselves, as a kind of bragging, an implicit “look at how happy I am with my kids and my life.” If we take this turn down Meta-Facebook Lane, of course, things could easily start getting ugly–because then, isn’t everything a brag? Yes, everything, from your picture of your Super Bowl tickets or Playbill program (“Look how well-connected and/or cultured I am!”) to your pictures of your beach vacation (“Look at how well-traveled/happily relaxed I am!”) to your pictures of yourself (come on, you wouldn’t be posting pictures of yourself if you didn’t think you were pretty good-looking, right?).
Here’s the thing: I am pretty damn happy. I do derive tremendous joy from my family, my kids, and my writing, and I’m proud of them. And I think a healthy level of pride in those things, as exemplified by posting pictures or status updates or links, is totally kosher.
Are children less acceptable points of pride for parents, I wonder, than are books for authors, or articles for journalists? In my Facebook feed today, I had one friend show an excerpt of a keynote speech he delivered. Another posted a clip of an article run on a website she edits. Another noted that he was on the judging panel for a monologue contest that evening. Why are any of these expressions of earned, deserved pride less acceptable than a picture of a child grinning while holding a medal he won in a basketball competition?
I don’t get mad at my Twiggy-like model friend from high school, for example. In every picture she posts, she is wearing something unbelievably daring and fabulous, looking like an absolute vision. She posts great links to her artwork as well, making me marvel at how creative she is.
I don’t get mad at my friends who post pictures of the amazing-looking meals they’ve just cooked (I may drool a little, though). I’m not angry with friends who announce that they’ve just finished the manuscript for their eighth novel–”YES!”—and are going to go celebrate by having a piece of homemade pie. And that’s even as I turn to Facebook to avoid battling with my first novel manuscript and gulp down a glass of water to avoid thinking of the cookies in the kitchen.
As someone who is too poorly dressed to pick up Vogue in a doctor’s waiting room–and as someone who, on occasion, has gone so far as to call spinach tortellini “dinner”–perhaps I am supposed to feel threatened or intimidated by these things. Perhaps I am supposed to question my very existence. But I don’t. Instead, I think, “Wow, I’m lucky to have such cool friends.”
BRAG AWAY, people. I am so happy for you that you have things in your life that you are happy about. I don’t care whether they’re adorable kids, awesome book deals, new beach houses, or great skinny jeans. Post your pictures and I will “like” them, with no resentment whatsoever. You get down with your bad self!
Because here’s the dirty little secret: if I begrudge you your happiness and/or successes, then I’m not really your “friend,” Facebook or otherwise.